Shinto priest

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A Shinto priest (神主 Kannushi, lit. "God master"), also called Shinshoku (神職, lit. "God's employee") is a person in the Shinto religion who is responsible for the maintenance of a Shinto shrine as well as for leading worship of a given god. The characters for kannushi are sometimes also read as jinshu with the same meaning. The role of a Shinto priest is usually done by a male.

Originally, Shinto priests were intermediaries between gods and could transmit their will to common humans. A Shinto priest was a man capable of miracles or a holy man who, because of his practice of purification rites, was capable to work as a medium for a god, but later the term evolved to being synonymous with shinshoku, that is, a man who works at a shrine and holds religious ceremonies there. In ancient times, because of the overlap of political and religious power within a clan, it was the head of the clan who led the clansmen during religious functions, or else it could be another official. Later, the role evolved into a separate and more specialized form. The term appears in both the Kojiki (680 AD) and Nihon Shoki (720 AD). In those times respectively, Empress Jungū and Emperor Suijin become kannushi. Within the same shrine, for example at Ise Grand Shrine or Ōmiwa Shrine, there can be different types of Shinto priests at the same time called, for example, Ō-kannushi (大神主), Sō-kannushi (総神主) or Gon-kannushi (権神主).

Shinto priests can marry and their children usually inherit their position. Although this hereditary status is no longer legally granted, it continues in practice. The clothes they wear, for example the jōe, the ebōshi and the kariginu do not have any special religious significance, but are simply official garments used in the past by the Imperial court. This detail reveals the close connection between kami worship and the figure of the Emperor. Other implements used by Shinto priests include a baton called a shaku and a wand decorated with white paper streamers (shide) called ōnusa. Shinto priests are assisted in their religious or clerical work by women called a shrine maiden, the female equivalent of a Shinto priest. To become a priest, a novice must study at a university approved by the Association of Shinto Shrines, typically Tokyo's Kokugakuin University, or pass an exam that will certify his qualification. Women can also become a Shinto priest and widows can succeed their husbands in their job.

Shinto Priests in the Len'en Project[edit]

Tsurubami is Shinto priest of the Senri Shrine. Despite being genderless, they are still referred to as a "Shinto priest" (a male role) in their official profile as there is no gender-neutral term for a kannushi; the female equivalent is a shrine maiden. Tsurubami is described as an oppressive, manipulative dictator that both youkai and humans live in fear and ignorance of. Currently, they are on a vacation in the Outside World with Tsubakura Enraku and Yabusame Houlen taking over for them.

Characters with this title[edit]